Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg meets with unhappy players … again

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For the second week in a row, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg began his Sunday at the ballpark by having a meeting with an unhappy player.

This time, actually, it was two players.

Sandberg spoke separately with Domonic Brown and David Buchanan before Sunday’s 7-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals (see story). Both players had made comments that were interpreted as being critical of the manager after Saturday night’s game.

Buchanan, a 25-year-old rookie who has made 14 starts in the big leagues, was not happy about being lifted after five innings Saturday night.

“I didn’t expect that and I wasn’t too happy about that,” the right-hander said after throwing 90 pitches and allowing eight hits and two runs.

Buchanan met with Sandberg Sunday morning.

“That’s been addressed,” was all Sandberg would say of the meeting.

The manager also spoke with Brown, who insinuated that his recent decline in playing time contributed to his inability to make a catch in left field Saturday night. That play was followed by Brown’s making a throwing error that led to a run.

“I had a conversation with him on that,” Sandberg said of Brown’s comments. “It was more frustration than anything.”

Brown was back in the lineup Sunday for the ninth time in the last 14 games. He went 1 for 4 with a run scored.

Brown has lost some playing time to Darin Ruf and Grady Sizemore. But Brown has made it easy for Sandberg to sit him by playing shaky defense and hitting just .226 with a .611 OPS for the season.

“I have no beef with Ryno; everything is good,” Brown said after Sunday’s game. “We talked. He just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page and we are. Everything is good. Ryno’s doing a great job.”

Brown did indicate that he’s frustrated.

“I just want to play,” he said. “That’s it. Ryno knows that. It’s tough on him. Grady has been swinging the bat well and Ruf has to play as well. It’s tough for him right now.

“I want to play. I want to be out there. I don’t want days off. I’m not used to that.”

Brown can cure his frustration and get more playing time simply by playing better. The Phillies have given ample time to nail down an outfield job. He could be a fixture in the lineup for years if he would simply produce consistently. The Phillies would like that to happen. It hasn’t and that’s why the team is taking a look at other players.

The comments made by Buchanan and Brown were not the first affronts made against Sandberg’s authority in recent days. A week ago, pitcher Kyle Kendrick showed up Sandberg on the pitcher’s mound in San Francisco. Sandberg met with Kendrick the day after and Kendrick apologized for his actions (see story).

Are these affronts merely the product of a long and frustrating season or does Sandberg have an authority issue with this club?

This is certainly something to keep an eye on as the rest of this season plays out.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: